A "Phenomenal" Pumpkin Year...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ultimate Digging Machine Shows Off Pumpkin Haul
That's the lesson that you'll learn if you read today's posting from Debbie Arrington in the Local News Section of the Sacramento Bee. It's been a rather special year for pumpkin growers -- or so says a couple of local growers who specialize in growing out thousands of Jack O' Lanterns that will be glowing from near and far tonight.

And -- after getting to the last of the Bird 2011 harvest just yesterday -- who am I to disagree? The wife that is Venus and I have grown pumpkins before. But we've never grown them in quite this amount. I have pumpkin vines that cover a quarter of the Bird Back 40 and seem intent upon growing over the fence and into the neighbor's yard.

Lame Attempt at Pumpkin Carving
That's gardening! Some years are better than others. In some years -- some crops do extraordinarily well. And -- some don't. Call 2011 the "Year of the Jack O' Lantern." There are more than enough to go around.

What are Bill & Venus Bird doing with their cash crop of pumpkins this year? I thought strongly about a pumpkin toss or pumpkin catapult -- but both ideas were nixed by the wife. She just can't understand why grown men would want to see a perfectly round pumpkin get tossed into the air -- only to splatter into a zillion pieces and streams when they hit the ground.

Bill Bird says, "cool!"

Pumpkin Pie Anyone?
We are finding some traditional uses -- however -- for the 2011 crop. Venus and I grew three different varieties of pumpkins this year -- including the smaller and sweeter variety that will be used for all things pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin barley soup and, of course, who can possibly forget the pumpkin martini. I've found -- from experience -- that you can make martinis out of just about anything from the garden.

This is -- provided you have the all important added ingredient of fermented juniper berries -- of course.

The seeds from our carved pumpkins also went to good use I might add. There's nothing quite like roasted pumpkin seeds using a mixture of a little bit of butter (OK, a lotta bit of butter), worscetershire sauce, honey (from the Hello Kitty Hive) and seasoned salt. Mix it all up -- throw it in the oven -- and VoilĂ ! Burned pumpkin seeds! Tasty too!

Some Gourds Not Quite Ready for Show
As for the pumpkin vines that I've nurtured through the summer -- they are starting to show some signs of wear and tear. The constant hum and din of honeybees that I noticed earlier in the summer has subsided quite a bit recently. That may be due to cold nights and cold mornings in the Sacramento riverbottom, and it can also be the fact that our colony has found a new source of pollen somewhere. Once the weather warms, it's not all that unusual to see them flying off over the fence in search of...something.

Perhaps they found some Juniper berries to pollinate? A man can dream, right?


Bill Bird's Burned Pumpkin Seeds (A recipe)

This works well with seeds from just one pumpkin, or five. You may want to increase or decrease the amount of butter used, depending on the amount of seeds. The amounts listed below were used for seeds that had been collected from four different pumpkins

Seeded Pumpkins
1/2 stick of butter
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon seasoned salt


Clean seeds, removing as much pumpkin residue as possible. Soak seeds in water for at least 30-45 minutes. Drain, and pat dry with paper towels.

Melt butter in saucepan or microwave, add worcestershire sauce, honey and salt and heat slightly again if using a microwave. Mix well.

Add seeds and butter mixture to bowl and stir to coat well. Spread evenly on baking pan with raised edges and roast at 250-300 degrees for one hour (it may need more time if you have a lot of seeds). Stir every 15 minutes.

The end result will be sticky to the touch, until they are allowed to cool and dry.

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